David Ryan Polgar


We Need a Summit on Ethical Tech

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I get inspired all the time when reading yet-another thought-provoking and well-researched think piece on Medium regarding ethics in the tech industry.

Or the lack thereof, a finger-wagging I-told-you-so.

Or a proposal for a code of ethics.

Or a I-once-was-blind-but-now-I-see missive from a tech industry veteran.

There is clearly enthusiasm around the ethical use of technology. But after my inspirational high wears off, I am always left with a mix of hope and anxiousness:

Where do we go from here?

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I’ve been deeply involved in the are of tech ethics since 2012. Over the years, I have noticed a disturbing trend — most people assume that they are relatively alone in the ethical tech space, an Atlas with the weight of a dystopian future world on their shoulders.

It shouldn’t be this way.

“Operating in silos” has become a cliche of sorts, but with the movement around ethical tech in the United States it has been relatively true. There is not much cohesion. People are constantly stumbling over other people and organizations that are highly energized yet disjointed from the movement at large.

It doesn’t have to be that way, of course.

The UK appears to be leading the way with ethical tech, and organizations such as DotEveryone have been mapping out the people and organizations — exactly what needs to be done here in the United States.

But here’s the dirty secret about “operating in silos” that usually goes unmentioned: some people are not collaborative. In an age where our teenagers and pets have morphed into brands, there are those that are highly protective over their ideas and associations.

We can’t change human nature, but we can bring together people and organizations that are collaborative.

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Ethical tech leaders like Baratunde Thurston have been a bright spot, offering up the start of A New Tech Manifesto will an open invitation to contribute your own ideas, feedback, and the organizations and people others should know.

That’s why we’re launching an ethical tech summit on Saturday, October 20th at ThoughtWorks in NYC, which will be an all-day event of lightning talks, panels, workshops, and networking.

It’s called All Tech Is Human: A Summit on Ethical Tech and it’s aiming to build cohesion among interested parties, organizations, and independent voices that desire a more thoughtful, transparent, and equitable tech future.

The goal of the ethical tech summit is for attendees to leave with a better understanding of the challenges facing us today, greater awareness of the growing ethical tech ecosystem, and concrete opportunities to engage in new and existing collaborative efforts.

This ethical tech summit aims to be open and inclusive. In other words, ADD YOUR VOICE.

If you are interested in attending, would like to suggest a panel or workshop topic, or would like to be considered for speaking, please fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/g84rZXXPhtXnHRF33.

Let’s do this.

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